Home Blog Five Best Master's in Public Administration Jobs

Five Best Master's in Public Administration Jobs

January 06, 2020
three people at desk with papers looking at pie and bar charts on laptop

One of the best things about working in the public sector is that it gives you many ways to make a difference in your community, no matter what role you fill. You can be confident that you'll be part of an organization or government body that has the power to change the world (or at least your community) for the better.

Public administration careers—positions in the administrative side of the public sector—are particularly effective ways of guiding change on a larger scale. In these roles, you are actively improving the way the organizations themselves operate and allowing them to better address the needs of the community.

How to Rank Public Administration Careers

If you're considering a career in public administration, you may be asking yourself what the best public administration jobs are.

To answer that, it's important to ask yourself what you personally consider to be the most important factors in a good job. Do you prioritize job satisfaction? Or are you instead looking for the highest-paying jobs? Some jobs may pay high salaries but require you to sacrifice your work/life balance, and only you can determine whether that tradeoff is right for you.

Chances are, if you're choosing a public administration career, money is not your primary motivation. At the same time, if you're going to invest in a Master's in Public Administration program to qualify you for more advanced positions, you want to make sure that the investment will pay off. It is, therefore, important to consider career paths that combine decent pay with opportunities for personal and professional fulfillment.

Ultimately, only you can decide what are the best public administration careers for you. But in the interest of helping you decide what you want to do with your Master's in Public Administration degree, here are five noteworthy public administration career paths that might be right for you.1

Five High-Paying Master's in Public Administration Jobs

  1. City Manager:2 City managers keep their towns or cities running smoothly. While elected officials develop policy, city managers determine how best to implement that policy. City managers are administrative leaders who oversee city employees, manage the city's budget and communicate between citizens and government officials. This role gives you a great deal of authority and responsibility to get things done and make your city a better place to live. However, you'll likely need to be on call at any time in case of emergencies. Average salary: $85,303–$160,000.
  2. Department Manager (eg., Financial, Human Resources, Public Relations, Training and Development, Medical/Health Service): Leadership positions are, unsurprisingly, some of the highest-paying public administration jobs out there. These are often also personally fulfilling since they allow you to have the biggest impact on the communities you serve or organizations you lead. Customize your MPA degree by choosing a focus that will allow you to move into a leadership role in the field you want. Average salary: $94,500–$104,440 depending on focus.
  3. Executive Director: This leadership position oversees a nonprofit organization from the top. It involves significant responsibility, including hiring, budgeting, managing staff and evaluating the organization's business practices. Both extensive experience and advanced education (particularly an MPA degree) are necessary to quality for directorial positions. Average salary: $102,690.
  4. Logistician: If you are highly organized and good at looking at the bigger picture, being a logistician may be right for you. Logistics can help organizations improve their efficiency and effectiveness from conception to final delivery of services. Although this field isn't specific to public service, it is increasingly in demand as public administration continues to become more efficient and modern. Average salary: $45,830–$115,960.
  5. Urban Planner: Cities experiencing growth or looking to improve how they serve their residents need the assistance of a skilled urban planner. Urban planners consider a city's existing resources to determine how to utilize those resources and develop new facilities to make a city more comfortable and functional for its inhabitants. Average salary: $42,940–$102,200.

Honorable Mention Public Administration Careers

These jobs in public administration may not be for everyone, and have more significant challenges that may disqualify them for some people. However, if they suit your lifestyle and your priorities, they can be incredibly satisfying career choices.

  • International Aid Worker:2 This position is noteworthy because it lets you make a measurable difference around the world. If you want to take your Master's in Public Administration degree and do the most good with it, this is an excellent career choice. The downside is that it can be a stressful and emotionally challenging career, since you will often be working in volatile environments and confront dire circumstances, which is also what makes it so rewarding. Average salary: $56,324–$92,540.
  • Public Administration Consultant:2 The advantage of serving as a consultant is you have the flexibility to explore new areas and new organizations, and you have the potential to change and improve not just one community or organization but many. Usually consultants have significant experience that gives them the expertise to advise others. Consultants work for themselves, which often involves working very long and irregular hours. Average salary: $73,000–$130,570.

No matter what career path interests you, if your idea of the best public administration job is one that involves responsibility, high pay and a chance to make a difference on a large scale, you'll most likely need a graduate degree in public administration. The online Master of Public Administration program at Kent State University will prepare you to serve as a leader and improve the effectiveness and success of your department and organization, and even have an impact on your community or the world.